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Friday, January 25, 2013
Recruit roundtable: Getting to the NFL

By Greg Ostendorf

Nick Chubb
2014 running back Nick Chubb will focus on an all-around experience in college.

TUSCALOOSA, Ala. -- After winning back-to-back national championships, the University of Alabama is on top of the college football world right now. The Crimson Tide currently have the No. 2 recruiting class and could have up to six players taken in the first round of April’s NFL draft.

This weekend, the Alabama coaches will host some of the top 2014 prospects in the country for the Crimson Tide’s first junior day.

We talked to five of the players expected to attend -- Bryson Allen-Williams, Nick Chubb, Rashaan Evans, Shaun Dion Hamilton and Justin Thornton -- about recruiting, getting to the NFL and the chance to play for UA head coach Nick Saban.

Q: What’s the main thing you’re looking for when choosing a school? 

Allen-Williams: When choosing a school, first I feel like it has to be a school that’s very academically sound because there is life after football. I don’t want to just be a football player who goes and plays football and doesn’t do anything with the college that I go to. I definitely want to earn my degree.

Evans: Mainly, it’s probably a school that’s going to make me feel like at home. Also, a good relationship with the coaches as well.

Hamilton: First and foremost, you want to look at the academics. After that, you want to get a chance to meet the coaches and to really see what coach is going to be coaching you. You want to build a relationship with him first because he’s going to be the one who’s going to be with you the most.

Thornton: A good fan base, a good academic program, good coaches who I can build a good relationship with, good teammates and just a comfortable atmosphere. I’d like to end up at a place that I feel comfortable at. And the main thing, I’m just trying to get my education.

Q: How important is the school’s ability to send players to the NFL?

Allen-Williams: I feel like NFL production, it isn’t a major factor to me, but it is a factor. I feel like if a school can put you in the NFL, why not go there? Why not go look at that school even more if that’s the ultimate goal of every football player?

Chubb: That’s important, I guess. Playing in the NFL and getting all that money is a good thing. I don’t know if I’m looking for that or trying to get to the next level. I’m just trying to go to college first.

Evans: That’s a big plus for me because that’s something I definitely want to do in the future. I’m definitely looking at stuff like that.

Hamilton: To me, it’s very important. I’m sure all those guys out there, all of us have the same dreams -- that’s to make it to the NFL one day. If you see a team that’s putting guys in the NFL, I’m pretty sure every recruit’s going to say the same thing. They’re going to go to whichever school is putting guys in the league.

Q: Which schools are producing the most NFL players right now? 

Allen-Williams: Alabama is Alabama. It produces a top-10 draft pick every year. South Carolina has a great draft class this year and next year. Georgia has a top draft class this year. Most of the schools that offered me are putting guys in the NFL.

Chubb: Alabama, Georgia and Ohio State. They get players to play at their maximum potential, get them where they need to be.

Evans: To me, it’s between Georgia and Alabama -- just because of the type of athlete that they’ve been recruiting, it’s the type of athlete they put in the NFL. It’s a lot of guys at my position as well. That’s probably one of the things I’ll look at, how many guys they send to the NFL at my position.

Thornton: I’m not a big Alabama fan, but I’d say Alabama because they’ve got a good program up there. They win championships. I know a lot of guys who went to Alabama are in the NFL, so it’s probably Alabama first. I know South Carolina’s got Jadeveon Clowney. Most likely he will leave next year and he will be in the top five of the NFL draft.

Q: What would it be like to play for Saban and how would he help you get to the next level?

Allen-Williams: It’s a big deal playing for Coach Saban. Coach Saban actually coached in the pros. One of my friends, Brandon Greene, actually plays for Alabama. He tells me Coach Saban runs his program like an NFL team. That’s something that’s going to prepare you for the next level.

Chubb: It would help. If you look at the past running backs that have made it -- they’ve produced them. Obviously they know how to coach running backs.

Hamilton: It would be great. He really knows what it takes to get to the next level. He’s been an NFL coach before. He’s going to push you. He knows everything about football that you need to know. He’s going to train you up to be NFL ready.

Thornton: I never looked at it like that, but playing for Coach Saban, I know he’d take care of me just like Coach [Kerry] Stevenson did. It would be an honor to play for him. I’m not going to take anything away from him -- he’s a real good coach. He wins championships. He wins games. He knows the game, and he puts people in the NFL.